Panthers by Paul Sutton

Snow on fingers which feel nothing.

Stolen diamonds, apartments open to clouds.

I have lived for sunlight and

 

coffee in scorched squares.

Four months in an adjacent shop,

asleep in the heat, testing walls.

 

The gang laughed at my shame.

They got access, dug through –

I had the boss in his office.

 

There is beauty in deceit, reborn

by checking in and out – warmth

of towelling garments, mini-bars.

 

I stare at the screens.

Council houses in England.

Who can live like that?

 

*

 

In the politics of shame, I have no stake.

My state a broken playground for addicts.

I class cities by war or never war – all the same for luxury and its fruit.

 

*

 

Unseen cliffs and ravines,

switchback roads and

plunging waterfalls.

 

“Beauty will get fucked.”

Was it a bad joke or

words from a poem?

 

*

 

The bar behind the bowling alley is where they still meet.

Crashing, rolling, reassuring. Drinkers are desperate now:

“Nuneaton”; “Carlisle”; “Basildon” – what places are these?

 

Working in dark warehouses, too much for you English.

Selling inflatables in the eastern Mediterranean.

Army issue ex-combat – some have a conscience.

 

*

 

Don’t we all have a “special time”

and it replays like film?

Mine was a summer when a

 

kitten lived in my bedroom.

I fed it scraps and stolen milk.

I’ve forgotten the rest.

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